SBJ/June 10-16, 2013/Leagues and Governing Bodies

NBA clubs to sell ads high, low

Backboards, floor offer new inventory

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NBA teams, seeing the push for lucrative jersey advertising shelved, are getting two new areas inside their arenas as sources of revenue starting next season: on the court and atop the backboards.

League officials have approved teams selling on-court advertising for the high-profile space in front of team benches as well as the camera-visible areas on top of the backboards.

The courtside space had been limited to club brands.
Photo by: NBAE / GETTY IMAGES
A league source said no specific valuation has been assigned to the new sales areas, but multiyear, multimillion-dollar deals are expected, with teams signing package deals that would provide an advertiser with visibility in both places. One team executive said the deals could range anywhere from mid-six figures to around $2 million annually, acknowledging that the value of the signage will vary widely by market.

Until now, the league had mandated that these areas be limited to team branding.

The deals would be sold locally, but any corporate branding of the areas would be removed during national TV broadcasts; the floor advertising would be via decals. Similar to rotational signage at the scorer’s table, the league controls certain inventory for national broadcasts, and these new areas would fall into that realm — though no leaguewide sales efforts for the space are immediately planned.

Teams will use next season as a trial for the new inventory. Multiyear deals can be signed, but those deals would be subject to review after the 2013-14 season if the league wants to make any changes to the program after seeing its results in the coming season.

NBA officials would not comment on the sales opportunities, but sources said that when the subject of the new sales inventory was raised at the April league presidents meeting in New York, it found quick support among league officials.

“This will be a tremendous opportunity for our teams,” said Alex Martins, chief executive officer of the Orlando Magic. “This platform to grow inventory of camera-visible signage will allow us all to continue to grow our business for our teams and players. I applaud the league for opening up this opportunity for our teams and our clients.”

This new courtside signage opportunity serves as the latest effort by the league to give teams more in-arena sales inventory. Many teams already include on-floor signage, toward center court, as part of their arena naming-rights deals, but officials close to the league feel the new signage will not clutter up the court.

“The location of [the new signage] is elegant in that it will get a lot of exposure without cluttering the court itself,” a league source said. “It is a very pure local issue.”

NBA teams this season had new local sales opportunities, as well. About 15 teams sold new LED signage on their basket stanchions, an area that previously had been unavailable to them for sales. Additionally, a few teams — Boston, Cleveland and Minnesota among them — reconfigured their scorer’s table to allow for more courtside rotational signage.

“It is hard to say what the value will be,” Martins said of the new areas for sales. “It should be sold as part of a big sponsorship package, and that is the way we would sell it. To me, it needs to be part of a premier-level type sponsorship because of the great value of exposure.”

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